Skip to main content

Where is that #Pain?

The location of pain is actually a rather complicated issue. Especially when you get into chronic pain where the trauma to the body is long since recovered, or was never there to begin with. New research suggests a lot of pain is really in the brain and less in the body, when it is chronic.

Science has almost adopted the idea that pain ought to be all in the brain. There is sophisticated research showing that some brain areas light up more when we are in pain. When we recover, these areas stop lighting up. There are even therapies directed at “retraining” the brain, which can sometimes reduce, or even occasionally cure chronic pain.
So scientists have developed the following concept: after injury or operation our tissues will heal, and normally all goes well - unless we are “vulnerable”. There is some evidence suggesting that when we are poor, smoke, are depressed, stressed, or have had chronic pain in the past, we may be more likely to develop chronic pain.
The idea is that the vulnerable brain retains memory of the trauma with its associated pain: it develops “abnormal neuroplasticity”. A good example is phantom limb pain. Following amputation many people develop pain the non-existing limb; they are more likely to do so if they had experienced a lot of pain before the amputation, so clearly the brain must be involved. Science 2.0

It makes a lot of sense. A lot of new treatments take this theory into account as well. Retrain the brain.

As with other chronic pains, many of us experts have been assuming the main problem for these patients is in the brain. But it recently emerged that the blood of patients with this condition (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) carries specific immune substances, termed “autoantibodies”. These substances can probably cause pain by binding to peripheral tissues, prompting sensory nerves to misfire – although the exact pathway is not understood. Misfiring of sensory nerves results in a state where the central nervous system, including the brain, has become “wound up”.
In CRPS, peripheral nerves may thus play a role comparable to electronic transistors: with very low abnormal peripheral input generated by the autoantibodies, the nerves steer a massive central abnormality. Without trauma these newly discovered antibodies are probable harmless; the trauma-induced inflammation is required to render them harmful.
In fact, these antibodies may only be present for a limited time, during a “window of vulnerability”, in sufficiently high concentration to cause harm after trauma; the same trauma sustained either earlier or later may not trigger CRPS. The good news is that there are treatment methods, originally established for the treatment of other diseases designed to reduce or remove auto-antibodies, which can now been tried. Science 2.0
 This is pretty fascinating for trauma related research into chronic pain. Understanding the nature of pain and chronic pain goes a long way into developing treatments. Chronic pain is after all a lot more complicated than people tend to thing in the body. 
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Signs the pain is getting the best of you

100 Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

There was a site that had this and I had linked to it on Tumblr but it is gone. So I had to hunt down someone who found my post and posted the whole thing in a forum. Anyway it is around but I'm posting it here so I will not have to hunt it down to reference it. Now we all know the major symptoms are the wide-spread pain, but our pain isn't just muscle pain... it can be nerve types of pain as well, and the fatigue and the insomnia. And even among symptoms there are some far more frequent than others, but it should be said we have categories... like the cognitive dysfunction, which is a broad one that has more than one symptom and we often just say fibrofog. The insomnia... more than one sleeping disorder. So the list is interesting.




GENERAL
__ Fatigue, made worse by physical exertion or stress
__ Activity level decreased to less than 50% of pre-illness activity level
__ Recurrent flu-like illness
__ Sore throat
__ Hoarseness
__ Tender or swollen lymph nodes (glands), especiall…

When I say I am good

When people ask me how I am feeling 99% of the time I am lying. I often say 'not bad', because I feel it is slightly more honest than 'good' or 'fine'. Got sick of fine. Anyway, I lie for many reasons. 



I'm having a good pain day: They happen and I'll say that I'm good, fine, not bad. I even feel like I can accomplish great things... in moderation. In which case, relatively speaking, for Me I am not actually lying. This is a Good pain day, it is Not Bad for me and I am Fine with it. I just don't want to explain: I just don't want to explain how crappy I feel and in which way I mean. Because I am tired of it. I just want to deal with it, without having to discuss it, mention it or have any sympathy expressed about it. Because it can be complicated. It may be a migraine with specific symptoms. Maybe it is a FM flare though. Or both. And then I have to explain what it is because most people think my migraines are the main issue but I could be FM…